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09/19/10 8:30 PM ET
Rangers slowed in Seattle, magic number at six
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- The Rangers hit .318 and scored 51 runs during their recent seven-game winning streak. They just couldn't bring that offense to the Pacific Northwest, not against a decent pitching staff and in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the game. Texas didn't need that much offense, not while its staff gave up just five runs over three games. But the Rangers were shut down by Felix Hernandez on Friday night and then let too many scoring opportunities fizzle on Sunday afternoon in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field. The Rangers went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, left 11 runners on base and had a couple more thrown out in critical situations. As a consequence, their lead is back down to nine games in the American League West. "Just one of those days when we couldn't put enough runs on the board," manager Ron Washington said. "It only took two, unfortunately they got those two." The Mariners may be in last place, but it's not for lack of pitching. Their staff entered the game ranked fifth in the AL in pitching, two spots ahead of the Rangers. "They can pitch," third baseman Michael Young said. "All the teams in our division can pitch, so when you go on a 10-game road trip to the West Coast, you know you're going to face good pitching. But we still have to take responsibility for our offense. We didn't swing as well as we could have." Mariners starter Doug Fister allowed nine hits over seven innings -- but just one run -- and earned the victory. Rangers starter Tommy Hunter allowed just two runs in six-plus innings and is now 12-4 with a 3.92 ERA on the season. This game turned in the sixth inning on what the Rangers were and were not able to do. It all started when Vladimir Guerrero hit a rocket over left fielder Ryan Langerhans' head to lead off the inning. But it also caromed off the wall and right back to Langerhans, who was able to throw out Guerrero trying for a double at second base. "That was a baserunning mistake right there," Washington said. "It happens. We would have liked to have him stay at first base, but of course it didn't happen." Instead, the bases were empty when Nelson Cruz followed with a drive into the visitors' bullpen for his 21st home run of the season. "If I'd have known Cruzie was going to hit a bomb, I would told [first-base coach Gary Pettis] to throw a rope around him and hold him to first base," Washington said. Ian Kinsler and Mitch Moreland followed that with back-to-back singles that put runners on the corners with one out. But Kinsler was thrown out trying to score on Matt Treanor's grounder to third and Julio Borbon grounded out to first base. The Rangers still led, 1-0, going into the bottom of the sixth but strange things happened there as well. Chone Figgins, with one out, swatted a chopper over the pitcher's mound that hit the second-base bag just as shortstop Elvis Andrus was about to field it. The ball bounced into right field for a hit. "If I work on my vertical a little more, maybe we can get that ball," Hunter said. Franklin Gutierrez followed with a double into the left-field corner and Figgins tried to score from first. Treanor did a terrific job blocking the plate while waiting for the relay from Andrus, and Figgins missed home plate sliding around the tag. But Treanor couldn't hold the throw and Figgins alertly went back to touch home plate to tie the game. "It wasn't a bad throw," Treanor said. "I went for the tag early and didn't get the ball in my glove all the way. I fumbled the ball a little bit." The Mariners then went ahead in the seventh when Langerhans led off with a triple against Hunter and scored on a single by Josh Wilson. Guerrero came back in the eighth and led off with a single against reliever Brandon League. This time the Rangers pinch-ran for him with Esteban German. But, with Cruz again at the plate, German was thrown out by catcher Guillermo Quiroz trying to steal. "I thought he had a pretty good jump," Quiroz said. "I tried to release the ball as quick as I could and I was glad it was right there. On a play like that, you have to make sure the throw is right on the money or you're not going to get him. I have played against him before in the Minors, and he's a pretty aggressive runner. I kind of knew he was going to go at any minute." The Rangers also threatened in the ninth, putting runners on the corners with David Murphy at the plate. Murphy already had two hits on the afternoon, but this time Mariners closer David Aardsma got him on a grounder to short to end the game. "We had our chance in the ninth and had the right guy up at the plate," Washington said. "The opportunities were there today."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.